Meat

Background

Focus on meat yield and plant efficiency

With 240 poultry processing plants slaughtering over 50,000 birds a day, Brazil is truly a poultrymeat production powerhouse. The big exporters JBS and BRF are known worldwide, but domestic demand is huge as well. In its efficiently run plant, family-owned company Ad’oro mainly caters for the Brazilian market with heavy birds and a focus on meat yield in cut up and deboning.

A constant stream of trucks loaded to the maximum with fully-grown broilers rolls into the small town of Varzea Paulista to feed the hunger of the one and only processing facility of the Ad’oro integration in Brazil. They come from one of the 300 broiler farms which may be as far as 250 kilometers away. The set up of the integration is pretty straightforward with one feedmill in Sao Carlos, one hatchery in Rio Claro and one processor.

Ad'oro has some 300 farms within a 250 kilometre radius supplying the plant with broilers. Photo: Fabian Brockötter
Ad'oro has some 300 farms within a 250 kilometre radius supplying the plant with broilers. Photo: Fabian Brockötter

The location, centered between the two huge metropolitan areas of Sao Paulo and Campinas, is crucial to its success. Plant director and head of field operations Jair Sbaraini knows that the largest part of production never leaves Sao Paulo state. With 44 million potential consumers, the 220,000 broilers processed per day are easily absorbed by the local market. Sbaraini: “We mainly produce for smaller retailers and shops and have adapted our birds to meet local demand.” Ad’oro grows Cobb birds to a final live weight of 3.2 kilograms, some of which are sold as a whole bird. “The choice to produce heavier birds with a higher breast meat yield in cut up was prompted by consumer demand and process optimisation. We know that the price of meat is not fantastic in Brazil and so with the heavier birds we have found an optimum balance between bird weight, feed conversion and final cost.”

With two shifts managing 220,000 birds a day in total, the plant runs at maximum capacity. Photo: Fabian Brockötter
With two shifts managing 220,000 birds a day in total, the plant runs at maximum capacity. Photo: Fabian Brockötter

Maximum capacity

Ad’oro has seen constant growth since it opened its processing facility on the current site in 1989. This is also reflected in the buildings on the site where it is clear from the layout that there have been many add-ons over the years, centered around an efficiently run processing line. With two shifts managing 220,000 birds a day in total, it runs at maximum capacity. There is one evisceration line, two cut up lines and two leg de-boners. The equipment installed by Meyn can run up to a line speed of 14,000 birds per hour but that rate cannot be achieved due to Brazilian regulations. Over the last few years there has been a constant battle between processors in general and the government. The regulations stipulate that federal quality inspectors on the line need at least 2 seconds to look at every carcass. This initially led to a maximum line speed of 10,000 birds an hour which was later upgraded to a maximum of 12,000. “We can go faster and, to be honest, we would like to as well, but we have to comply with the ­regulations,” says Sbaraini.

Positive outlook for Brazilian processors

After years of uncertainty surrounding market access, Brazilian poultry processors now have the green light. “Projects that were on a back burner for quite some time have now been activated,” says Fabiano Benvenutti, director at Meyn do Brazil. His company has seen an increase in its install base by 15-20 percent in the last year alone, especially in automatic breast deboning, cut up and evisceration lines. With domestic consumption of poultrymeat maxed out at 50 kg per person per year, the export market is driving demand. Exports to Europe have resumed and China is pulling hard due to animal protein shortages caused by the African Swine Fever outbreaks.

Benvenutti continued: “Then again, we are not seeing the crazy expansion we had a decade ago when everyone had plans to double production. Now they are a little more cautious. If we learned anything in recent years, it is that export levels can go up or down in an instant. In Brazil we say that we are always preparing for the next crisis.”

Processors tend to focus more on efficiency by automating processes – making them less vulnerable to labour shortages and rising wages – and on increasing yield. “The focus on yield starts already in the poultry house with the right balance between FCR and growth. This is why grillers tend not to be produced anymore but heavy 3.2-3.5 kilogram birds instead. In the processing plants our customers invest in machines that give the highest yield possible. More than in the past, every processor knows what 1% loss means, so they want the processing to be as efficient as possible.”

That said, according to the plant director, speed and volume are not the only criteria. Until ten years ago Sbaraini was responsible for creating the quality standards at BRF which became the ‘gold standard’ in the industry. Since then he has been in charge of enhancing profitability at Ad’oro. With his plant running at full capacity, the difference is made by focusing on yield and efficiency.

Every investment made is guided by these two parameters and while competitors have struggled in recent times, Ad’oro was still making money. With the installation of a jet stream scalder operating at lower temperatures (47 degrees instead of 70°C), the plant was able to save energy but, more importantly, saw a 1 percent yield gain due to eradicating overscalding. “We are always pioneering and looking to improve results,” Sbaraini explains. “We devote constant attention to investing in and updating equipment. Getting the most out of this plant is crucial, as we have bold plans for the near future. We have already committed to a new 30-million-eggs-a-month hatchery and are looking to build or buy a second processing facility. Market conditions at the moment look promising but the competitiveness of our plant and the whole production chain around it, are vital to our success.”